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The Global Flow of Information

The Global Flow of Information: Legal, Social, and Cultural Perspectives

Ramesh Subramanian
Eddan Katz
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 268
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  • Book Info
    The Global Flow of Information
    Book Description:

    The Internet has been integral to the globalization of a range of goods and production, from intellectual property and scientific research to political discourse and cultural symbols. Yet the ease with which it allows information to flow at a global level presents enormous regulatory challenges. Understanding if, when, and how the law should regulate online, international flows of information requires a firm grasp of past, present, and future patterns of information flow, and their political, economic, social, and cultural consequences.In The Global Flow of Information, specialists from law, economics, public policy, international studies, and other disciplines probe the issues that lie at the intersection of globalization, law, and technology, and pay particular attention to the wider contextual question of Internet regulation in a globalized world. While individual essays examine everything from the pharmaceutical industry to television to information warfare against suspected enemies of the state, all contributors address the fundamental question of whether or not the flow of information across national borders can be controlled, and what role the law should play in regulating global information flows.Ex Machina seriesContributors: Frederick M. Abbott, C. Edwin Baker, Jack M. Balkin, Dan L. Burk, Miguel Angel Centeno, Dorothy E. Denning, James Der Derian, Daniel W. Drezner, Jeremy M. Kaplan, Eddan Katz, Stanley N. Katz, Lawrence Liang, Eli Noam, John G. Palfrey, Jr., Victoria Reyes, and Ramesh Subramanian

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-4947-0
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Ramesh Subramanian and Eddan Katz
  4. 1 Perspectives on the Global Flow of Information
    (pp. 1-22)
    Ramesh Subramanian and Eddan Katz

    PATTERNS OF INFORMATION FLOW are one of the most important factors shaping globalization. The sheer scope of these flows is vast, encompassing global intellectual property, scientific research data, political discourse, brand names, and cultural symbols, to name just a few. Digitally networked environments subject information to ever newer methods of distribution and manipulation. Today, individuals, groups, countries, and international organizations actively promote and try to control the flow of different kinds of information across national borders. Conflicts over control of information flows help define who holds power in the global information economy. The information infrastructure—which includes methods of production,...

  5. 2 McDonald’s, Wienerwald, and the Corner Deli
    (pp. 23-38)
    Victoria Reyes and Miguel Angel Centeno

    GLOBALIZATION IS EVERYWHERE.¹ States, economies, and societies are increasingly integrated, with flows of goods, capital, humans, and cultural objects forming a global web. There is little doubt that we are undergoing a process of compression of international time and space. Globalization is also nowhere. Although lacking a coherent empirical or theoretical underpinning, the concept has become a catchall phrase in academia and the mainstream media, simultaneously meaning everything, and nothing at all. In order to understand the global flow of information, we first have to examine the various meanings of “globalization.”

    Our title hints at three dominant perspectives.

    The “Corner...


    • 3 Internet TV and the Global Flow of Filmed Entertainment
      (pp. 41-53)
      Eli Noam

      IT’S BEEN NOW ABOUT NINETY YEARS that American films and video media have predominated globally, and despite many efforts, despite many government-supplied francs, marks, and now euros, despite various restrictive rules and regulations going all the way back to the 1920s, not all that much has changed. Yes, there is always some hopeful news every year—some film or reality TV series that has been successful, some production company that lights the imagination—but somehow this hopeful news has not diminished the basic dominance of Hollywood.

      In 1998, of the forty most successful movies worldwide in terms of box office,...

    • 4 Piracy, Creativity, and Infrastructure: Rethinking Access to Culture
      (pp. 54-89)
      Lawrence Liang

      Approximately an eight-hour bus ride from the bright lights of india’s financial and film capital, Mumbai, is a small, nondescript town called Malegaon.¹ The town is populated mainly by migrant Muslim laborers from north india, who work in the power loom sector. Malegaon became infamous in 2006 after a series of bomb blasts. Serious communal riots broke out after the destruction of the Babri Masjid (a mosque in Ayodhya, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, that was demolished by Hindu zealots in 1992). The town has however been in the news recently for another reason. It has emerged as the...

    • 5 Prospects for a Global Networked Cultural Heritage: Law versus Technology?
      (pp. 90-102)
      Stanley N. Katz

      MY SUBTITLE is of course misleading. Law in itself is not against anything, and certainly it is not necessarily against the full and fair development of technology. But domestic law is an expression of national culture, and culture is sometimes clearly against the development of technology as a matter of national policy. The history of the United States has been a long dialogue between culture and technology—the quickest and broadest development of technology has been a national cultural and legislative priority since the early nineteenth century. The most important restraint on such development has been the law of intellectual...

    • 6 The Cultural Exception to Trade Laws
      (pp. 103-118)
      C. Edwin Baker

      Organizers of the discussion to which this chapter contributes asked whether “‘flow’ [is] the right metaphor to analyze digital information.” Although “flow” might suggest to some a natural physical rather than a human interactive process and although scientists rightfully must consider the former, the more important democratic and social concern and the concern that should provide direction even to the scientists is the quality and nature of the latter. Another term in the conference title, “information,” however, is more problematic and biased. A focus on “information” encourages fetishistic notions such as the view I hear occasionally that “information is power,”...


    • 7 Weighing the Scales: The Internet’s Effect on State–Society Relations
      (pp. 121-138)
      Daniel W. Drezner

      HOW DOES THE INFORMATION REVOLUTION affect the relationship between governments and global civil society? Does the internet lead to greater democratization and liberalization? The political science on this question could be best described as ambiguous.¹ This is because two very different narratives can answer this question. The more popular and prominent argument is that the internet dramatically lowers the costs of networked communication; therefore, civil society groups are better able to mobilize action to influence governments. Countless articles have been written about how the internet has facilitated social movements to advocate for some international treaties—like the Landmine Convention—and...

    • 8 Local Nets on a Global Network: Filtering and the Internet Governance Problem
      (pp. 139-155)
      John G. Palfrey Jr.

      MORE THAN THREE DOZEN STATES around the world take part in censoring what their citizens can see and do on the internet. This practice is increasingly widespread, with extensive filtering regimes in place in China, Iran, Burma (Myanmar), Syria, and Uzbekistan. Censorship using technological filters is often coupled with restrictive laws related to what the press can publish, opaque surveillance practices, and severe penalties for people who break the state’s rules of using the Internet. This trend has been emerging since at least 2002.

      As internet use overall and the practice of online censorship grow, heads of state and their...

    • 9 Law as a Network Standard
      (pp. 156-172)
      Dan L. Burk

      GLOBAL INFORMATION FLOWS are reshaping the international information landscape, channeled from nation to nation through the new outlets provided by global computer networks. Such movement of information between jurisdictions invites conflicting applications of local regulations over advertising, intellectual property, hate speech, personal data, and other communicative content. Understanding the role of the internet in this context is crucial to understanding the phenomenon of transborder information exchanges, as the internet both forms an active conduit for much of this information flow and provides a case study for understanding information flows outside the network.

      To a greater extent than any previous communications...


    • 10 Emerging Market Pharmaceutical Supply: A Prescription for Sharing the Benefits of Global Information Flow
      (pp. 175-190)
      Frederick M. Abbott

      NEW INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES enable individuals in disparate locations to conduct cutting-edge research, to move that research into the development and testing of new medicines, to manufacture high-quality products, and to move those products to patients around the world. Conceptually, the world pharmaceuticals supply market may become increasingly competitive at all stages: basic research, product development, manufacturing and distribution. The diffusion of technological competence to major developing country actors in the pharmaceutical sector, such as India and China, as well as to more specialized actors such as Bangladesh (manufacturing) and Singapore (research), could result in a significant expansion of the pool...

  9. IV WAR

    • 11 The Flow of Information in Modern Warfare
      (pp. 193-201)
      Jeremy M. Kaplan

      INFORMATION HAS ALWAYS BEEN IMPORTANT at the strategic level in warfare, whether to defeat the plans and disrupt the strategic alliances of adversaries as espoused by Sun Tzu,¹ to deliberately mislead enemy spies and make use of a carefully concealed ability to intercept plans—as the allies did in WWII²— or to galvanize and maintain public support through the presence of embedded reporters, as the United States did during its 2003 invasion of Iraq.

      However, the free and rapid flow of information at the tactical and operational levels is currently causing a revolution in the very nature of warfare—a...

    • 12 Information Flows in War and Peace
      (pp. 202-214)
      James Der Derian

      IT’S THE INSTANTANEOUS NATURE of cyberattacks that has rendered defenses against them obsolete. Once an enemy finds a chink in U.S. cyberarmor and opts to exploit it, it will be too late for the United States to play defense (it takes 300 milliseconds for a keystroke to travel halfway around the world). Far better to be on the prowl for cybertrouble and—with a few keystrokes or by activating secret codes long ago secreted in a prospective foe’s computer system—thwart any attack. Cyberdefense “never works” by itself, says the senior Pentagon officer. “There has to be an element of...

  10. V POWER

    • 13 Power over Information Flow
      (pp. 217-231)
      Dorothy E. Denning

      INFORMATION FLOWS through a global environment characterized by conflict and competition. One party wants a flow to occur; another wants to block it. To illustrate: Users want to freely exchange information, while governments and businesses seek to block information harmful to their interests. Spies try to infiltrate the networks of their adversaries and competitors to gather intelligence, while their targets employ security mechanisms to prevent network exploitation and attack. Hackers and identity thieves send e-mails loaded with viruses and other forms of malicious software, while users employ antiviral tools to block the same.

      Conflicts over information flow are at the...

    • 14 Information Power: The Information Society from an Antihumanist Perspective
      (pp. 232-246)
      Jack M. Balkin

      WHEN WE THINK ABOUT INFORMATION as power, we usually think about individuals, groups, and nations using information and information goods as a resource that helps them gain advantages over others. in this chapter, however, I am interested in how the globalized information networks create new forms of power that transcend people’s conscious design. Digital information technologies, I shall argue, enmesh individuals, groups, and nations in proliferating networks of power that they neither fully understand nor fully control, and that, in fact, are controlled by no one in particular.

      To explain this phenomenon, I offer three portraits of our current situation,...

  11. About the Contributors
    (pp. 247-250)
  12. Index
    (pp. 251-260)